Coastal Community Foundation statement on Reimagine Schools

On Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, Coastal Community Foundation released the following statement to clarify the key points of the Reimagine Schools proposal.

The Reimagine Schools proposal is above all else an inclusive community engagement process to ensure that local parents, teachers and community members are empowered to decide what changes should be pursued at their schools that have long been designated as in-need of improvement. If the proposal is approved by the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees on Monday, that simply begins a process of appointing community members to commissions and collecting community feedback about what’s working or not working at their schools. All district residents in these areas would be invited and encouraged to lend their perspectives and provide input throughout the commission process. Coastal Community Foundation’s role has been to introduce this structure for robust community engagement, and to calculate what financial resources would be necessary to make it successful. If chosen by the school board, we would solely be involved as a convener to ensure an inclusive and transparent process that involves guidance from experts in education. Coastal Community Foundation would not in any way dictate outcomes of the commissions, hold or control public funds, or be involved in operating schools in any capacity.

Every potential school model and possible outcome that is in the Reimagine Schools proposal is already an option that any of these schools can pursue today. What this proposal aims to do is ensure that the district has a proactive process for community engagement, so that any potential changes are directed first and foremost by the community that is most affected, and secondly to ensure that those decisions are made with consideration of the other schools in that community’s feeder pattern. Currently, the state Schools of Innovation law does not require a principal or school district to collect that community input before pursuing waivers, and that is why we are advocating for that process to be installed on the local level.

The proposal does include the possibility of forming a new Innovation Management Organization within the district to which schools opting to become nonprofit-managed schools of innovation could be assigned for the purpose of administration. As a Foundation, we believe there are merits to this school management model – specifically in schools that are inviting in a change to give teachers and principals more autonomy and flexibility to meet their students’ specific needs and circumstances. However, Reimagine Schools as a proposal does not aim to prescribe this as an outcome. We think that is a very important distinction, because we never want the Foundation or any other entity to do things to the community. We believe very strongly in doing things with the community.  If a community commission decides one or all of its schools need no changes whatsoever, then that is a perfectly legitimate outcome of Reimagine Schools.

The full proposal can be accessed here: CCF Reimagine Schools proposal

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